12/13/2013 07:36 pm ET Updated Dec 13, 2013

Newtown Teen Named Sports Illustrated's 'Kid Of The Year' (VIDEO)

When Jack Wellman suffered a serious back injury at football practice, the three-sport athlete was told that he wouldn't be able to take part in the football and wrestling seasons. But instead of sitting on the sidelines, the 14 year-old proved that even with the biggest setbacks, you can still make a difference.

Though the newly-named 2013 SportsKid of the Year couldn't participate in sports, the Newtown, Conn. teen was asked by his local youth wrestling association if he wanted to come to wrestling practices and help out. Jack gravitated towards the younger, more inexperienced kids, and it quickly became noticeable that he was a pro with them.

"The parents from the sidelines watched how he almost had this sort of magical effect in being able to get 3 and 4 year-olds to concentrate on how to sink a half nelson," explained Rob Accomando, a parent of one of the wrestlers.

Watch Jack practicing with the young wrestlers in the video above.

But while things were looking better for Jack, life took a sharp turn again when tragedy struck his hometown in December of 2012 as a result of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings.

"It was such a weird feeling to walk into the family room and see my dad sobbing," remembered Jack. "I had never seen my dad cry before."

In wanting to keep a sense of normalcy in the aftermath of the shootings, it was decided that wrestling would continue.

"I had a decision to make once they announced that we were going to keep going," said Jack. "So I said, 'Yeah, I need to get back out there.'"

With his positive attitude and high spirits, Jack returned to the wrestling mats where he was able to help strengthen the community and boost morale during a heartbreaking time.

"Jack Wellman symbolizes not just a kid who found a way to pick himself up when he was down. He represented the idea of hope," said Bob Der, managing editor of SI Kids.

"We all go through hard times in our lives and there's no way of getting around that," explained Jack. "But you can choose how you respond to it. For me, it was always finding a way to give back."

Jack isn't the only teen to be recently recognized as a role model in athletics. In October, Manchester, Conn. teen Kayla Samuel selflessly stopped mid-run during a race to help an injured runner -- and her competition -- cross the finish line.

In another amazing display of sportsmanship earlier this year, Jonathon Montanez, a senior at Franklin High School, showed superb leadership when he let Mitchell Marcus, a student with special needs on the opposing team, score a basket in the last game of the season.

"I was so happy then," Marcus told NBC Southwest station KTSM. "It made my night."

What do you think of Jack's story? What other teen athletes inspired you this year? Tell us in the comments below, or tweet @HuffPostTeen.



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